Yesterday the Anderson family came over for the day. The Andersons are one of the families that we hope to join in Africa. We met them a few years back. Eddie grew up in Kenya and now lives in Michigan with his wife Rachel and their 5 kids. They were visiting Chicago to continue to raise support and funds. We got to meet Silas; the newest addition to the clan at only a few weeks old. Every time we talk with them or see them I am absolutely impressed with how they are as a family. It is hard to define what I am talking about but their family has a presence, a chaos, and at the same time a peace that I love. Having 5 kids 5 and under absolutely blows my mind. I cannot fathom daily life for Rachel with the kids at home, at least without some serious narcotics :). She was telling me that having more children does not exponentially increase the work load but that they develop a routine, a flow and it just works. This, of course got me actually thinking about having more children (DO NOT read we will be having another one ANY TIME SOON!) but what would this “new” family would look like? Up until recently the thought of being pregnant again or having a newborn was akin to gnawing off my left arm while being run over by a Mack truck. We definitely want more children (either biological or adopted), if that is God’s plan but until now I have not wanted to expend any mental energy thinking about it. I realize a lot of this is selfish but it is just me and I am working through it.
It helps that Jason turned to me last night while we were both in bed reading and said “thank you for sacrificing to stay at home with Annikah.” It meant a lot to me as I love staying at home with Anni but there is always a part of me that desperately misses teaching and working with kids. Of course, that was also sacrifice in a different way, as all jobs that continually challenge you are, but things are different. The energy I now expend is much more all encompassing and does feel like a sacrifice to God at times. I realize that comparatively I do not sacrifice much at all. There are moms that have few choices and much less material blessing than I. For them sacrifice is a way of life everyday. I also know that all mothers sacrifice whether they work or stay home, we make choices everyday that impact our families. It goes without saying that the joy far outweighs the sacrifice but to acknowledge it helps me process motherhood. I was grateful that Jason took the time to verbalize his feelings and gratitude for my “work” (albeit mistake ridden) and this role that God has given me. It made me fall in love with him a little more. If we are together maybe change in our family would not be so hard.
It is sort of like fall. Maybe it is that the weather shift that felt so drastic, so immediate, with no warning but I have been thinking a lot about change. About how my life has changed since being married, since having Annikah. I was not a passive passenger through these developments but sometimes I look back and cannot remember “when” things changed. As if there was one instant in time that metamorphosis occurred. I know this is not how it happens. There is no one moment but rather a serious of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical transitions.
Change is hard to think about for me. It seems too easy to stay with what I know, what is the here and now, the immediate. But that, too, is an illusion: that I “have” any of this, that it is not a profound gift from God. The fear of transformation would cripple my life if God did not intervene, I would never have gone to college, gotten married, moved to the “scary” city, took a teaching job, went to Africa, tried for a baby. I would like to believe I am more adventurous than I actually am. Sure, I will jump out of a plane, get a tattoo, run a marathon but those things do not require serious internal reflection and being open to changing. I must admit it is just so simple for me to envision life as it is now, the addition of much of anything causes anxiety. I think this is mostly because I finally feel like we have a rhythm, a beat, familiarity, a daily routine. The thought of that drastically shifting causes me to fear the future. As I pray and reflect on this I realize that I would miss out on so much of the raw reality of life, the mistakes, the joys, the challenges, the wins and the losses. The stuff that is real, not just the metaphysical but the actual reality of God’s vision for my life. I would trade comfort for purpose. I cannot pin point it, list it, define it and perhaps that is why I feel lost and a bit undone about any impending change. Not that all these changes will come immediately or at once. Africa seems so much all at once and I know that change will stretch me personally and us as a family. I know that Jesus cares and that He will lead me through His purposes, even if they are different than my own vision.
Perhaps change is not worthy of fear, just worthy of ongoing reflection, purposeful discussion, and genuine and unceasing prayer.